We conclude this leadership organisational-vital blog series by asking an obvious question. When should a leader quit?
Leaders, good or bad, are professionally mortal. Leaders should know when the inevitable is starting to happen and leave voluntarily. The inevitable in the context of this blog equates to leaders understanding that they can no longer add signature-value to the bottom line at the organization they lead. Signature-value addition for the leader is bringing to the table sustained leverage for the led to tap into
Leaders play the anchor role and have to provide continuous leverage for the people they lead. In effect, leaders are OD. tools for the led. The led leverage the leader’s OD. mental superiority to shoehorn their ideas. Leveraging a leader supports a process that transforms the ideas of the led from basic to complex value-creating propositions
How leaders become an effective leverage tool for the led:
- By asking the right questions, and in the process helping those they lead shoe-horn their thinking and ideas – this is equivalent to coaching the led for growth of both the self and organization
- By taking on the work-products of the led, improving them, and ensuring they make the next level of quality – this is a hands-on leader
- By identifying the right external resources, likely the so-called consultant and other industry-network resources, to add signature-value to the work of the led and their leader. The latter is another route to idea-hardening, and creating signature-value for the organization. For example, a flooded consulting labor market makes the selection of the ‘right’ consultant an extremely cumbersome exercise. The authority that consultants ooze, authentic or not, intimidates the led into not asking the right questions of the experts. Leaders bring wit and experience to navigate the consultant contracting paths
- Making the right judgment call – in many instances, making the right judgment call is down to a leader knowing when to give the green-light to move ahead with an activity or process, the amber-light to hold and allow more reflection or observation, or the red-light to abandon action. Leaders play the traffic-light-signal role at the organization. Like it is on the roads when the traffic lights fail, disaster is likely to strike when the leader’s signaling machine fails
Yet, knowing and understanding when it’s time to move on can be tough for leaders. Leaders get so attached to the organization that letting go becomes hard. The latter is particularly the case at the bionically balanced entity due to the interplay between the leader’s role as: leader, strategy maker/overseer, chief structure designer (architect), and people manager. Indeed, practicing leadership at the bionically balanced entity is like swinging a pendulum. The leader oscillates between the four organisational-vitals [leadership, strategy, design (architecture), and people] and many never know with certainty which of the four OV’s are working well or not.
Because of the above, leaders tend to lose their sense of self-awareness. Leaders assume that they are doing well in the usually menacing maze of OD. dynamics at the bionically balanced entity. However, their sense of self-belief is at times unrealistic. Unaware, the complexity and fast moving organizational environment, create an OD. blind spot for the leaders – they believe that they are still asking the right questions, providing hands-on support to their teams when needed, and that they still are making the right judgment calls. However, in reality, the leaders will have entered, without knowing, the state of gradual regression
When regression sets in, stakeholders, both direct reports and other industry sector observers begin to question the leader’s attitude, behaviors, ability to sustain pressure that comes with leadership, and effective command of the leadership space
Leaders should not wait for others to observe that something is amiss. After-all, when leaders ‘listen’ to their inner sense, they will realize that something is broken and that it’s time to move on. Losing focus at the bionically balanced entity is dangerous for both leaders and organizations. The latter can quickly degenerate into: sub-optimal performance, value loss for the organization, and individual credibility issues.
Effective and smart leaders move on voluntarily when they can longer meet the above four demands of leadership anchoring and leverage. To move on is no admission of ineptitude. To the contrary, it’s a sign of sound and credible leadership. Leadership maturity and success are correlated to knowing when it’s time to move on.
At times, it is healthy to have a new start
Categories: You, the Leader!